Bengaluru: “Why 12% GST on sanitary napkins and not on condoms or bindi or Sindoor? It is beyond comprehension. Do I have to be a woman to feel for a woman,” asks artist Raj Kamal Aich. A brief silence followed his statement.
Through his Period Art Project, illustrating blood-soaked pads and tampons questioning the government’s 12% GST on sanitary napkins, he succeeded in passing a strong message.
When asked what inspired to use sanitary napkins and tampons for his artwork, Raj Kamal said that it was an urge to do something on World Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28) prompted him to come up with these artworks. He used real sanitary napkins and tampons to break away from the conventional path. In fact, it was never done before.
However, during the research, he came to know that the government is planning to impose 12% tax on sanitary pads. “It is ridiculous and insensitive of the government to tax women for bleeding. I have realized how expensive pads and tampons are. Urban people may shell out Rs. 100 or more for a pack of pad or tampons, but what about rural women? What about our maids?”, he asked.
An art consultant with a media house, Aich said that for the first time during this project he held a tampon in his hand. “I wanted my work to be authentic that I went ahead and bought the packet. I was not spared an awkward glare by the shopkeeper. I told him that it was for a photo shoot.”
Regarding the red color, he said, “ There is nothing gross about period blood and I wanted to send across that message. I had no other choice but I had to use ink because I felt so strongly about this project”.
My male friends did not understand what tampon was and they were shocked to learn how women use it and why. “We men take so many things for granted. We just don’t talk about periods. Many even have misconceptions about it. I spoke to them and cleared it,” he said. Aich described this artwork as being a woman.
He thinks that the government should come up with alternate, cheaper solutions. “If you really love your woman, having her period is what makes her a woman and if you think she is beautiful then the period blood is also beautiful,” Aich concluded.
(Feature image source: Raj Kamal Aich)